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Salem Community Patriot July 15, 2011 - 5

Records Remain Sealed in Smeltzer Homicide

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz A hearing held in Rockingham County Superior Court on July 6 pertaining to the deaths of Mara Pappalardo and Mason Smeltzer was held behind closed doors. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said that the closed-door session was a meeting and not a hearing. “There is no hearing and everything remains under seal,” Young said after the meeting on July 6. The closed-door meeting,

which was ordered by Judge Tina Nadeau, was to discuss the prosecution’s request to obtain therapy records of Mercey Smeltzer’s therapy sessions since the deaths of her mother and 4-year-old brother. Christopher Smeltzer was brought from the jail to the courthouse, but did not attend the meeting. The New Hampshire Attorney

General’s office says between November 7 and 8, 2010, Mara Pappalardo, Christopher Smeltzer, and their two children, Mercey, 7, and Mason, 4, were at the home they had previously rented in Auburn on Bunker Hill Road. What exactly transpired in the home has been kept under seal, but Christopher Smeltzer and his daughter Mercey were found with non-life threatening injuries on November 8, 2010, in the home, along with the two deceased. Both Smeltzer and his daughter were taken to Elliot Hospital and the following day, Christopher Smeltzer was charged with two counts of second- degree murder in the death of his wife Mara. Mara’s cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to her head, along with ligature strangulation. Her husband is alleged to have hit her over the head with a flashlight, but is not accused of the strangulation. No one has been charged with Mason’s death. Mason’s cause of death was determined to be ligature strangulation. Christopher Smeltzer also has not been accused in the death of his son. People close to the family say that Ms. Pappalardo suffered from severe mental illness and speculate that she may have killed Mason and tried to kill Mercey, but that the children’s father, Christopher Smeltzer, may have intervened and recklessly caused Mara’s death during the incident. Besides Mr. Smeltzer, his daughter Mercey is the only witness and prosecutors believe that the child witnessed what happened in the home and could provide critical information pertaining to the case. However, the records of her therapy sessions where she may have revealed these details to a pediatric therapist have not been made available to the prosecution. Christopher Smeltzer has been held at the Rockingham County Jail on no bail since his arrest on November 9, 2010. A Grand Jury has not indicted Smeltzer on the charges and have been granted extensions in the case twice. The

most recent extension was granted in May. The Attorney General’s office is seeking access

to the documents that contain information that Mercey Smeltzer may have told her therapist about the incident. The written arguments by the Attorney General and the response from the Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF) and Family Strength, the non- profit counseling group assisting Mercey remain under seal, but it has been learned that the prosecution wants to obtain records of Mercey’s

therapy sessions. The Smeltzer family was not living at the home

in Auburn at the time of the homicide, but had been living with Smeltzer’s mother Dorothy in Salem. Mercey was enlisted as a student at the North Salem School at the time of the deaths of her mother and brother. The Attorney General’s office says the

investigation of both deaths remains ongoing and all files remain sealed until further notice. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young refuses to

comment on the case. After the hearing on July 6, Attorney Young stated she still will not comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation. “The court pleadings are sealed, so my hands are pretty much tied,” Young said. The results of the hearing held on July 6 are sealed and not available to the public. It is unknown at this time if Judge Nadeau has ruled to allow the prosecution access to the records of Mercey Smeltzer’s therapy sessions.

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